Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit you might be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your housing costs.
The payment is made at the discretion of your local authority if you do not receive enough existing benefit to cover your rent.
Common reasons for applying are to offset the following:
- Bedroom Tax
- Benefit Cap
- Local Housing Allowance Rate shortfalls
There are no time limits apart from when the scheme began, but you have to give exceptional reasons to backdate for a long period.
Can I apply for DHP?
Your local authority may give you a Discretionary Housing Payment under the following circumstances:
- If the local housing allowance you get is less than your rent in private rented property
- You have non-dependant deductions/housing costs contributions and subsequently your Housing Benefit has been reduced
- Your Housing Benefit is reduced because you are of working age and you have a spare bedroom in social rented property
- Your Housing Benefit has been reduced due to the Benefit Cap
- You need help to pay a rent deposit for a new home
- You need help with removal costs, or rent in advance for a new home
A Discretionary Housing Payment will not be given in these situations:
- If you are in arrears with your rent and need help to cover the increase
- Where an overpayment is being recovered from your Housing Benefit
- Needed to cover certain sanctions or reductions of your benefit
The funding the local authorities receive from the government for Discretionary Housing Payments have increased to help those affected by the Benefit Cap and other Housing Benefit changes. In particular the following groups of people:
- If you are living in temporary accommodation
- An individual or a family fleeing domestic violence
- If you have kinship care responsibilities
- If you cannot move immediately for reasons of health, education or child protection
- A household having to move to more appropriate accommodation
- Households having difficulty finding more appropriate accommodation
- A disabled person living in significantly adapted accommodation
- An approved or prospective adoptive parent or foster carer
Your local authority will make a discretionary decision and will have to prioritise those decisions as they cannot help everyone. Once the local authority has spent its budget (provided by the Government) it cannot make any further awards during that financial year.
How much DHP will I receive?
The decision on whether to award, how much and for how long, is made by your local authority. They will also decide how to treat any income or other resources you may have. The amount you are awarded could cover all or part of your shortfall in rent or the costs of taking up a tenancy.
What documents will I need?
Each local authority will have its own claim form but the following documents will usually be needed to support your claim:
- Recent payslips if you are employed
- Your partner's most recent payslip, if they are employed
- You and your partners bank statements covering the last two months
- Proof of any loan, credit-card or hire-purchase repayment agreements
- If you have rent arrears, any letters you have received from the landlord
- Proof of any expenses that may be particularly high
- Medical evidence if you are ill or disabled
How are payments made?
A Discretionary Housing Payment could be made to you or direct to your landlord. The payment could be a one-off or an indefinite award. Your local authority will also decide whether to backdate or not and if so for how long.
Does DHP affect other Benefits?
A Discretionary Housing Payment will not count as income or capital when calculating your entitlement to means-tested benefits or Tax Credits.
Change of Circumstances
Your local authority will inform you of the changes in circumstances that you are required to report to them.
No right of appeal
There is no right to challenge a decision made by your local authority as the payments are awarded at their discretion. If you are not successful, you can apply again at the start of the next financial year, providing you are still entitled to housing benefit or the housing costs element of universal credit.
If you require further advice or assistance on making a Discretionary Housing Payment claim, you should contact your nearest local advice agency.